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2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

This is just one question from an archive of the National DNA Day Moderated Chat held in April 2008. The NHGRI Director and many genomics experts from across NHGRI took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.

What causes DNA to mutate?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Many things can damage DNA: ultraviolet light for instance, radiation or exposure to certain chemicals. Fortunately the cell has built in mechanisms to detect mutations and correct them. One of the elegant characteristics of DNA is the REDUNDANCY of information. Because it is a double-stranded molecule it is unlikely that you would have a mutation affecting the same location on both strands: the cell always has an "original strand" to recover the information and repair the mutation on the other strand.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)

< View ALL questions and answers from 2008

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